Booze-in-parks fines up 500 per cent

City bylaw officers are getting more aggressive in handing out tickets to people with open booze in parks.

John Wilson, bylaw manager at the City of Kamloops, presented a statistical review to the City's co-ordinated enforcement task force Monday on trends in enforcement.

Those numbers showed an increase in fines for alcohol offences of nearly 500 per cent between 2008 and 2010. Last year bylaw officials handed out 465 tickets for open alcohol, mostly in parks. That compares to about 100 in 2008.

Wilson said the City has been more aggressive with its bid to make parks safe.

"If we look at events like Canada Day where you have thousands of people, we did public information that there would be zero tolerance and had a presence."

That message of zero tolerance for booze in the park was backed up by tickets.

"We made a specific point for the possession of alcohol," Wilson said.

Wilson also presented numbers showing complaints about transients have fallen sharply in the same period.

In 2008, the City received 316 complaints and calls for service versus 183 last year.

Wilson said numbers dropped swiftly in 2009 when the City's temporary shelter regulations came into effect. Those allow sleeping overnight in undeveloped City lands, not including green space parks.

"We became more active. Instead of just enforcing, we messaged with social agencies as well."

That co-operation is also helping drop the number of complaints about transient camps, Wilson said.

The City will use bike patrols again this year, but will restrict them to the busiest months of June through the middle of September. Bylaw officials co-ordinate with RCMP, which also does foot patrols.

Those patrols focus on the downtown and North Kamloops business areas as well as parks nearby.

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